DHS Reacts to Westminster Terrorist Attack

March 22, 2017 — In 82 seconds, the lives of 3 innocents ended, and those of 40 others were affected forever. A car sped along the pavement of Westminster Bridge, purposefully hitting dozens of pedestrians. The driver then pulled into the Palace of Westminster, exited the car, and fatally stabbed police officer Keith Palmer before being shot dead. Later on, two more died in the hospital from injuries, bringing the death toll to 5.

The perpetrator has since been identified as Khalid Masood, a 58-year-old man. Police are still conducting investigations into the motivation behind Masood’s actions, but fear that the truth may have died with him. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for this attack.

Major terror attacks such as those in Berlin and Nice have also involved an attacker using a vehicle to crush innocent pedestrians or ram into crowds. In fact, only one day after the Westminster attack, a man in Antwerp drove through the crowded Meir shopping region in an attempt to run over unsuspecting shoppers. This trend toward volatile, unpredictable violence makes prevention next to impossible. There was little the police could have done to save the lives of those killed. With this type of terror attack always comes a sense of powerlessness and vulnerability.

Women activists wearing blue hold hands on Westminster Bridge in from of the Houses of Parliament to honor the victims of the March 22 attack. Photo credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP, Getty Images

But rather than succumbing to the atmosphere of fear and hate, there were those that raised their voices in a clarion call for healing and hope. On the same day of the attack, women gathered on the bridge to link hands in remembrance of the victims. These women, many of them Muslim, linked hands not only as a call to unity after violence, but also to condemn the perversion of their religion. Many of the women wore blue to symbolize hope and peace. Others have brought floral tributes to Westminster Square lining the grassy area with vibrant blooms. Though many such attacks have rocked nations worldwide, it is activists like these women who show that we can still have hope in the goodness of humanity, and the ability to continue living and loving in the face of virulent hate.

The Westminster attack has made students more aware about their vulnerability and the potential for attacks to happen in any place. Junior Andrea Burrows spoke to this concern, and addressed the far-reaching, global impact that these depraved acts of violence have. “It can happen anywhere,” she said. “These attacks are very harmful to children and families everywhere.”

“I certainly don’t feel safe after hearing about these attacks,” Sophomore Riya Patwardhan agreed. “They were very abrupt and there is nothing really one can do as this can happen anywhere and anytime.”